‘A different gravy, a diamond and too good for League Two’ - how El Mizouni’s Cambridge loan is pushing him towards Town’s first team
- Credit: Archant
Idris El Mizouni is currently impressing on loan at Cambridge United. ANDY WARREN looks at how the Ipswich Town youngster is getting on.
It's certainly been a good few weeks for Idris El Mizouni.
It looked as if his loan move to Cambridge had gotten off to a nightmare start after manager Colin Calderwood, the man who brought the playmaker to the Abbey Stadium, was sacked just a few days later.
But, under caretaker Mark Bonner, the creative midfielder has thrived.
The highlights are impressive. There's the succession of driving runs into opposition territory, the thunderbolt strike which bounced back off the crossbar against Bradford and then, the pièce de résistance, his peach of a free-kick which put his loan club into the lead away at Scunthorpe.
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You can glean enough to know El Mizouni is impressing from highlights videos alone but those who watch the U's every week will tell you of a young man who brings calmness on the ball while combining flair with a willingness to get involved in the more physical side of the game.
He's largely being deployed in the No.10 role behind the strikers and, from there, his quick-thinking has brought United an added threat in the final third as his willingness to shoot from range and the ability to pick a defence-splitting pass have played a vital role in a side which has sparked into life in recent weeks.
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El Mizouni's debut, a 4-0 home loss to Salford, ended a run of just one point in six games and cost Calderwood his job, but since then they've won four on the bounce to move away from relegation trouble, safely into midtable and leave the club looking up rather than down.
He's one of a batch of new loanees who have played a big part in Cambridge's revival, with El Mizouni's link-up with Paul Mullin, a big physical striker brought in from Tranmere, said to be particularly fruitful as his composure, vision and footballing ability has brought a new dimension to a previously struggling side.
Those are all attributes we've seen El Mizouni use during his cameos in the Town first-team and certainly in Ipswich's Under 23s and, while he certainly still has a way to go and could probably influence games and play with a higher intensity, to see him produce it in the rough-and-tumble of League Two is exciting.
His most recent performance led to one supporter to proclaim online: 'Young Idris is a different gravy... you Tractor Boys must be blessed with talent if you are letting this diamond go out on loan!'
The poster of that tweet is right of course. The reason the Tunisian international was allowed out on loan was the midfield traffic ahead of him. Lambert thought long and hard about whether to sanction the move but ultimately the prospect of regular adult football
He's behind Alan Judge, Jon Nolan, Teddy Bishop, Andre Dozzell and even striker Will Keane in the No.10 pecking order at Portman Road but Lambert and his coaching staff are all known to be big fans of the teenager, with his loan to Cambridge designed to ready him for the Ipswich first-team.
There's a sense on the Abbey Stadium terraces that El Mizouni is too good for League Two level and could comfortably do a job in the third tier and, while it remains to be seen whether he makes a real play for a regular spot in the Ipswich side when he returns for pre-season, it's clear his temporary departure is having exactly the desired effect.